The Jackson Herald
December 29, 1999
stories of the century
1. The opening of Interstate
85 through Jackson County in 1965.
The opening of I-85 through the heart of Jackson County has had
the most profound impact of any event during the last 100 years.
The road forever changed the character and destiny of Jackson
County by opening the once rural, inaccessible area and linking
it to Metro Atlanta and the entire Southeast. Jackson County
is what it is today because of I-85.
2. The murder of solicitor
general Floyd Hoard, August 7, 1967.
When a local bootlegger had solicitor general (now called district
attorney) Floyd Hoard killed, it awoke a citizenry to the real
depth of the county's crime problems. All through the 1950s and
1960s, local citizens tolerated the growth of organized crime
in Jackson County. Some became part of the corruption, others
simply turned a blind eye to it. But after the killing of Hoard,
it became impossible to ignore the crime issue. Slowly, Jackson
County shook off its stigma as a haven for crime, but it took
the brutal slaying of Hoard to begin that process.
3. Arrival of the boll weevil
in Jackson County in September, 1919.
Cotton was once "king" in Jackson County, at one time
covering over 70,000 acres. The early 1900s were mostly good
to county farmers, but then the economic effects of World War
I hit and the farm economy suffered. But the real cotton killer
was a tiny bug called the boll weevil that hit here in 1919.
Farmers had long known about the weevil and knew it was coming.
Consequently, some began to plant less cotton and diversify into
other crops. Still, the weevil hit at a weak moment in the county.
The Depression a few years later further hurt the cotton economy
and by the 1930s, cotton as the main local agricultural crop
had been dethroned.
4. Creation of the Jackson
County Board of Commissioners in 1901.
Although county commissioners are today major players in local
affairs, that wasn't the case 100 years ago. Only in 1901 was
a board of commissioners organized, and it took many more years
until this group really became important. Still, Jackson County's
political leadership during the latter part of the century largely
came from this board.
5. The 1974 conviction of
A. D. Allen on theft charges that kept him in prison until his
death in 1999.
The murder of Floyd Hoard was a key turning point for Jackson
County, but also important was the 1974 conviction of Commerce
crime kingpin A. D. Allen. For two decades, Allen led much of
the organized crime in the county, mainly involving car and clothing
thefts. He seemed untouchable, until the FBI got involved and
finally had Allen put in jail for the remainder of his life.
6. The 1995 shared-tax agreement
between Jackson County's three school systems.
With three school systems in Jackson County, the political infighting
over education has long been a concern of county citizens. For
many years, some called for the three systems to be merged to
resolve these complex issues. School merger was a controversial
topic for much of the 1970s and 1980s and involved a number of
lawsuits and other actions. But in 1995, a series of unique contracts
was signed between the systems that, for the most part, put an
end to the merger issue. By agreeing to share tax income in certain
districts, the three systems resolved disputes over annexation
by Jefferson and Commerce, thus opening the door for mutual cooperation.
7. Approval of a referendum
to restructure the Jackson County Board of Commissioners in 1999.
Although this hasn't yet had an impact on Jackson County, this
change will have a profound impact on the county in the 21st
century. By changing the county government structure to a professional
manager with a larger board of commissioners, the dynamics of
how the county is administered will change dramatically. The
big story for this century is that county citizens saw the need
for a change and developed the political will to make it happen.
8. Rise of the textile industry
Although both of Jackson County's main textile industries began
in the 1890s, it was only in this century that they reached their
zenith. For many decades, Harmony Grove Mills and Jefferson Mills
provided the main non-farm employment in Jackson County. In addition,
the Hardman and Bryan families, which owned the two mills, were
key players in local political circles, as well as on the state
and national levels. Socially, economically and politically,
these two mills, and others that followed, had a large hand in
shaping Jackson County for most of this century. It was only
in the last two decades of the century that a growth in imported
textiles and the development of other local industries saw the
textile industry wane in local influence. Both the Hardman and
Bryan families sold their textile mills to larger companies in
the last decade.
9. Rise of poultry farms as
a key agricultural industry, 1924-present.
When M. E. "Ellis" Murphy began large-scale poultry
farming in Talmo in the 1920s, little did he know that commercial
poultry farming would come to dominate Jackson County agriculture
for decades to come. Even today, with all the industrial and
residential growth happening, poultry farming is still a major
industry in Jackson County. On the strength of poultry, Jackson
County ranked seventh in Georgia in farm income for 1998.
10. Development of a county
water system in the 1980s-1990s.
Jackson County was slow to develop rural water infrastructure,
but since the late 1980s, the Jackson County Water and Sewerage
Authority has come a long way toward meeting those needs. Within
the next few years, the basic water infrastructure should be
in place and the authority is now taking on the task of developing
an unincorporated sewage system, mainly for industrial and commercial
growth. Access to water has been a key part of the county's growth
through the late 1990s and will continue to affect the county's
11. The 1926 race for governor
between Jeffersonian John N. Holder and Commerce's Dr. Lamartine
The October 1926 runoff between these two men from Jackson County
for governor created a bitter political split locally that even
today hasn't totally vanished. Hardman won the election, but
the emotions of the race lingered for decades and contributed
to a political rivalry between the county's two largest towns.
Although muted in recent years, the rivalry at one time was bitter
and fed into athletic competition between the town's two high
12. The arrest of Sheriff
John B. Brooks in September, 1963.
Public corruption was a major problem in Jackson County for much
of the 1960s. Nowhere was that as evident as in the county's
sheriff's department where in 1963, the county's top law officer
was arrested on auto theft charges. It would be another decade,
however, before the acceptance of public corruption was swept
13. Integration of public
schools in 1970.
The dynamics of race relations were long a part of the Southern
political and social culture. But while Jackson County had moments
of race-baiting and radical segregation, by 1970 such feelings
had waned and the integration of public schools was smooth and
quiet. It was one of the county's finer moments.
14. The 1984 election of Sheriff Stan Evans.
If the 1963 arrest of a sheriff was a low point for Jackson County,
the 1984 election of Stan Evans as sheriff was one of the high
points. Evans put an end to the county's reputation as a haven
for crime by raiding the remaining bootleg establishments and
forcing the closure of a large cockfighting operation. Evans
brought respect back to local law enforcement in a way that had
not been done for decades. It was another turning point for the
15. Move of the Jackson County
High School from Braselton to Jefferson in 1979.
After years of leadership neglect, the county school system decided
to get serious about its high school in the late 1970s. By moving
the school from Braselton to Jefferson in 1979, the county system
forever committed itself to providing a quality education for
its students. The move also had other impacts as well, both in
how it pulled students from Jefferson and Commerce high schools
and in changing the dynamics of how the three school systems
interacted. It would be many more years before most of those
issues would be resolved, but they would have perhaps never been
addressed had school leaders not made that 1979 move.
16. The 1983 recall of four
Commerce city councilmen.
Seldom are public officials thrown out of office in mid-term,
but in 1983, Commerce voters did just that with a recall of four
city councilmen. The recall happened after months of bitter acrimony
on the council. The events led to the creation of a city manager
government and the restoring of financial stability to the city.
17. The development of Walnut
Fork Industrial Park at I-85 and Hwy. 129, 1987 to present.
By building a private industrial park at I-85 and Hwy. 129, Pattilo
Construction forever changed the shape of Jefferson's business
community. The industrial firms that have located in the park
contribute to both the city and county tax base and have provided
local employment for the growing county. The majority of the
county's industrial growth has taken place in Walnut Fork, enough
that Jefferson's tax base surpassed that of Commerce's during
18. Disbarment of Judge Maylon
B. Clinkscales in 1961.
Another example of local public corruption in the 1960s. Although
Clinkscales avoided trial on the accusations, his disbarment
was another embarrassment to Jackson County and came on the heels
of a 1959 investigation of county government that also hinted
at public corruption. The disbarment, along with the Brooks arrest,
led to a great deal of mistrust of local law enforcement that
took decades to overcome.
19. Killing of Sheriff C.
D. Barber on Jan. 19, 1919.
Although this death did not have a long-term impact on the political
or social dynamics in the county, it was a major event of the
early era of this century. The sheriff's killer, Hollis Landers,
was later hanged in the Jackson County jail.
20. The winning of the state
AA football championship by the Commerce Tigers in 1981.
OK, so this may not have shaped the political or social structure
of Jackson County, but it was a major event of the last three
decades. Twice in the 1970s, Commerce played for the state title
and lost. But in 1981, the Tigers won the crown with a 28-14
victory over Greene County. Other local sports teams and individuals
have won state titles, but this 1981 victory is the only time
a Jackson County school has won a football crown. The victory
was a major psychological boost to Commerce school patrons because
it came on the heels of an exodus of CHS students to the new
county high school in Jefferson.
December 29, 1999
20th century brought
much scientific change
When future historians regard the 20th century, it will likely
be remembered as the "Age of Science and Technology."
Mankind perhaps made more scientific progress in the last 100
years than in all the previous centuries of his existence.
It's hard to imagine today that when this century began, our
grandparents and great-grandparents were born into a world that
had seen only marginal technological changes from the time of
their ancestors. For all the social and political upheavals wrought
in the 1700s and 1800s, the everyday existence of most people
had changed little during the same time. Only the arrival of
train travel in the 1800s comes anywhere close to the kinds of
changes wrought in our own times.
At the dawn of this century, our forebears were still at the
mercy of a world that was little understood, a world that was
larger and stronger than all the collective knowledge of mankind.
By the end of this century, mankind had mastered, to an extent
never imagined, the world around him.
We conquered both air flight and space flight; we tamed many
diseases with the discovery of antibiotics and have begun to
unravel the genetic code of life itself; we harnessed the power
of the atom for both peace and war; and we created a thinking
machine and used it for work and play with the advent of the
All of those things not only had a profound effect on our lives,
but also will continue to affect the course of human history.
The century's explosion in scientific knowledge is perhaps just
the beginning - who knows what our children and grandchildren
will discover in the century just ahead?
It's interesting to ponder just why this century has seen such
rapid scientific successes. Is it just coincidence that so many
breakthroughs happened in such a short time?
I think not. The successes of this era came because of two intertwining
trends: A high level of political and economic stability and
a parallel growth in the ability of mankind to communicate.
Despite two major world conflicts, and numerous smaller wars,
the American reservoir of political stability and economic power
in the 20th century helped to maintain the march of human discovery.
For all our internal political and social battles, our nation
had a historic golden era of stability and growth this century.
That stability allowed technological advancements even when the
scientists were native to other lands - Albert Einstein and Werner
Von Braun are two that quickly come to mind. That stability and
economic power also helped rebuild the world after two world
wars, thus maintaining some level of worldwide stability over
a long period of time.
But along with that strength was an explosion in communications.
Not since the advent of the printing press in 1455 has the world
witnessed such a revolution in how mankind communicates, both
individually and collectively. From the growth in telephones
early in the century, to radio, television and the Internet,
the 20th century has been marked by increasing channels of dialogue
and information. The world shrank considerably in the last 100
years as these methods of communication grew.
This profusion in the ability to communicate led to the diffusion
of scientific knowledge at a rate never before possible. While
political and economic stability were the muscles of scientific
innovation, communication was the steroid that bulked it up.
So the challenges of the next century won't just be in the halls
of scientific research. Without a stable and strong environment,
and the ability to communicate freely, scientific research can't
The ability to discover great things in the coming century will
only be as strong as our collective will to maintain political
stability, economic strength and freedom of expression.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
December 29, 1999
on article about BOC and CUB-JC
I'm writing this letter because I'm sure you've made some mistakes
in last week's Herald article regarding the $5,000 county check
Pat Bell and Henry Robinson wrote to CUB-JC's lawyers. Pat and
Henry surely know that they cannot spend the money of the Jackson
County taxpayers in such a fashion.
Your article implied that they wrote a check without knowing
what they were paying for. No request for qualifications or request
for proposal notices were printed in The Herald seeking such
services. Are we to believe we have no assurance that the firm
of Decker & Hallman meets the county's contractor standards,
maintains the minimum insurance coverage required by our insurance
company or bylaws, or agreed to complete a specific scope of
work for a specific price on a specific schedule?
Was it just a $5,000 feel-good gesture removed from the taxpayers
pockets by two confused commissioners and given to the lawyers
of a group of people who spent money they can not raise on their
own? CUB-JC has been begging for donations for years from the
people of Jackson County. Surely they have more money than they
need. Surely they would not have to convince Pat and Henry that
the only way they can pay the bills they ran up is if they have
the force of law behind them compelling the people of Jackson
County to contribute to their lawyers or be thrown in jail.
You also stated that Pat and Henry did not consult the county
attorney regarding this payment. Of course Mr. Fitzpatrick knows
that to issue a check directly to Decker & Hallman without
his review (as the contracted law office of the county) of the
billing records which the invoice represented was, at best, highly
unusual and suspect, at worst, blatantly illegal. The landfill
process was halted on a lesser technicality. Pat and Henry must
have been in a real hurry to cut that check to CUB-JC's lawyers.
Could it be that is because they have seen a lot of Hilton Bik
lately? Mr. Bik (the leader of CUB-JC) has had a few rezonings
and zoning variances go his way lately because Pat and Henry
have voted for them. That would be the same Hilton Bik who got
a little huffy when I spoke against giving tax money to his private
legal battle. Of course, he said he was only involved because
he was concerned about the environmental impact of a landfill,
not because he was getting ready to get out of sheep farming
and start building subdivisions and was concerned about his property
Your article also leads one to believe that Mrs. Bell does not
understand the difference between the filing of an amicus brief
and a vote to expend county funds. Surely one who has held such
a position as long as she has knows the difference. Decker &
Hallman's invoice was for legal services rendered "in representing
Jackson County." Of course there must be some contract in
place documenting the exact scope of work and contracting directly
with Decker & Hallman, isn't there?
I was at the meeting when Pat and Henry voted to allocate $5,000
to assist CUB-JC in their private legal battle. The way it was
presented at that time, the $5,000 was to go to the county attorney's
office to assist CUB-JCs lawyers in litigating their suit against
the landfill. The county attorney would choose the issues relevant
to the interests of county, and offer such services up to a maximum
of $5,000 in billed hours and expenses. This would have been
a legal, even though inappropriate, use of tax money. Pat Bell
said at that meeting, and I quote, "We are not giving anybody
anything." The Herald has implied that Pat Bell lied to
the taxpayers of Jackson County. Was that your intent, or did
I miss something?
If your article is accurate, then I assume that almost anyone
could send an invoice to the BOC with only an amount and a return
address on it, and Pat and Henry would dash to the checkbook.
The major role of government is to promulgate laws and to enforce
those laws. For a local government to become involved in such
a private lawsuit is to admit that that local government is not
capable of performing it's most basic function. It is as ridiculous
as Atlanta's lawsuit against gun manufacturers; if you don't
want guns in your city, try to outlaw them. If you don't want
landfills in your county, try to outlaw them. Legislate, don't
I wonder if I could get the BOC to write a $ 5,000 check to "Recall
Pat and Henry Now!"
Concerned with lack of respect
In this busy world of ours, we all are in such a hurry, especially
at this time of year, that we not only do not remember the "reason
for the season" but lose sight of common courtesy and respect
for others. This was brought to my attention in a heartless way
when on Monday, Dec. 20, at approximately 3 p.m., my father's
funeral procession was trying to get to Evergreen Memorial Park.
While we were trying to get on the bypass in Athens, a young
man driving a white pickup from a business in Jackson County
pulled in between the hearse and the family cars.
If you are reading this, you hurt an already heartbroken family
with your lack of respect very much. We all understand that you
may have been in such a hurry that you might not have realized
what you were doing. But my question to you is, what if that
had been your father? How would you have felt about this? Let's
all remember that when we see a funeral procession, to pull over
and give this family some respect. It only takes a minute of
our time and means so much to them.
My entire family wishes to express our appreciation and thanks
to each of you for all you did for us not only at the loss of
Father but also my daughter. Your thoughts, cards, calls, prayers,
food, flowers, memorial gifts and visits meant the world to us.
God bless each of you and best wishes for a wonderful new year.